Since our first term in Stockholm, Sweden, a heavy focus has been placed on encouraging our students to capture their thoughts through the process of reflection. It is an activity that is commonplace in schools, but particularly useful at one that spans the globe and features dynamic classrooms. So why are reflections such an important part of the THINK Global School makeup?
Writing a reflection allows our students to engage in critical and reflective thinking, while also helping them to better process their experience and outcomes. Each weXplore activity is supplemented by lessons in the classroom prior to an excursion, providing our students with a solid knowledge base to draw upon during the course of their experiences and later during the reflection process. For instance, prior to the students departing for North India, a series of workshops was arranged to “front-load” them with knowledge, questions and hypotheses designed to enhance the learning experience on location. These included essays, readings and Q&A sessions on a broad range of subjects including Sikhism, the Bhopal disaster and Partition. While “in the field” the students were encouraged, through the presence of their specialist guides, to question key protagonists, record their experiences and reflect upon them in moments of tranquility. Upon their return, the students were given the brief to share one aspect of their learning in their chosen format; these were presented in an afternoon session of sharing.
By sharing their reflections, students are also able to compare their experiences against those of their classmates and open up conversations and debates with the users of Spot, where the reflections are often times shared through the use of tag dashboards.
Earlier this term Global Studies teacher Nick Martino and World Literature teacher Garrett Austen arranged a field trip for their students to observe the traditions centered around the Islamic holiday, Eid al-Adha, also known as the “Feast of the Sacrifice.” The experience, which involved the sacrifice of two live goats in honor of Abraham, took many students beyond the boundaries of their comfort zone. The subsequent reflections which resulted from the trip proved to be much more than simple play-by-plays, with several of the students expressing that they felt a shift in their core beliefs due to the experience. For some, that shift came due to the powerful aura which can accompany religious events; a transcendent feeling that defines many lives throughout our world. Others, particularly those who were more perturbed by the slaughter of the goats, stated an increased appreciation for the value of all living things. Each student was appreciative for the experience, and expressed as much through their writing. Reflecting on the event afterwards provided the students with a much needed opportunity to collect their thoughts and state them in the dignified manner necessary for such an event.
Beyond writing, many of our students have shown a proclivity for working other mediums into their reflections, often times in conjunction with their newMedia Lab course. Photography and video have proven popular among our students, and both mediums provide a strong visual aid when telling their stories. Other students, like 11th grader Isaac F., have ventured outside of the box and used programs such as Google SketchUp to add another dimension to their reflection.
We encourage our students to share their reflections, and these can often times be found on SPOT and the Student Showcase section of our website. We also encourage the furthering of conversations on these sites, so feel free to politely engage with our students through both channels.